We recently had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with the passionate people within Keyton (formerly Lendlease Retirement Living).
Sonal Wallace is Keyton’s National Resident Wellbeing Manager for Retirement Living and leads Health and Wellbeing Coordinators based across their 76 retirement villages in Australia.
This includes Anita and Libby, who are tasked to ensure that all residents are exposed to experiences and activities that encourage socialization, build, and strengthen relationships and improve quality of life.
Keyton commenced usage of SilVR’s VR solution at the end of 2022, and this was a chance to touch base with them as they openly shared how Virtual Travel was allowing residents to come together in a shared space through new experiences.
Anita, based in NSW, mentioned they were pleasantly surprised at the quick and eager uptake of this new program. “Technology has been something they have been averse to… but the word had spread that it was something new we were doing, and as soon as they started spreading the stories around, it became a big hit in both of my villages. It’s absolutely blown up here which is a nice surprise.”
Sonal, who is an Occupational Therapist by trade, shared how she has witnessed firsthand how VR has been beneficial in the aging population. Some of the residents within the community had already been exposed to some level of VR from their grandchildren and this also helped pique their curiosity, but it was the word of mouth from the other residents who had already taken part in the program that also led to more participation.
Anita and Libby try VR for the first time.
At Keyton’s retirement villages, many residents remain active and independent, however, it is not lost on the team how daunting it can be to try new things and to find your feet when you are one of the newer residents – that is also something this VR program was able to help with.
“It brought social connection, it helped them come out of their shell as well. They interacted and talked about their stories. Depending on the experience, they would reminisce or maybe talk about something they had studied at school. Tomorrow they are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, and they’re really excited about that.”
– Sonal Wallace, National Resident Wellbeing Manager for Retirement Living
Sonal was very quick to point out that the success of this program is highly dependent on the trust that her team build with the residents at their villages. Through love, patience, compassion and building real relationships, Anita and Libby clearly established a strong sense of safety that open the hearts of residents to try new things.
Libby, based in Victoria, went on to share her experience with one resident who kept to herself for 6 months as she adjusted to life in her new village. “She barely interacted in any of the social settings, but I would say hello every morning as she would walk past my office. I mentioned that virtual reality was coming into the village and suggested it might be good for her to try it, even if she would just watch it first on the big screen. She has a neurological condition, and she wasn’t confident within herself, but she came to watch with some other residents and once more we encouraged her to try it and she was like ‘oh my goodness, this is amazing!’”
Residents without VR headsets can even see the same content in real time and be part of the adventure.
“Now, this same woman is coming to all our events, she is helping other residents and taking a stand for her health as well, she is saying she wants to go to the gym now and she is really thriving. It is so amazing to see that it’s not just a change within herself but now kind of going out to join the village, to join the community.”
When we touched on the impact that this program has had, Anita responded, “The social connection for us is profound, because what you find is that they travel together often. The same group will want to go somewhere new again together. We have had a lot of residents move into one of my villages recently, and we’ve found that it’s given them a platform to integrate and mix with existing residents.
It’s quite difficult when you come into a new environment and you don’t know where to start with the conversation, so it’s been a good icebreaker. We’ve noticed male friendships that form and that’s cool, they build a little tour group and look forward to travelling here and there. Then they come with their passports, they love that, and it’s a lot of fun.”
New friendships are formed, and existing relationships are nurtured through the shared VR experiences.
As we neared the end of our chat, we asked the team to share how SilVR Adventures VR solution helped them find fulfillment in the space they hold for the residents and their answers really showcased their genuine desire to ensure residents are given the best opportunities available to them.
The ability to share these meaningful experiences, to introduce something exciting and innovative around technology, to allow them to see and do new things from the safety and comfort of their chairs alongside friends they have built timeless connections with – this has been an investment that is not just worthwhile, but ultimately priceless.
Our story began over 30 years ago and was built on a shared purpose… To empower independent seniors to choose where and how they live – and to make those choices with confidence.
We make it our mission to deliver on that purpose each and every day, by providing all kinds of quality retirement living options, services and support that reflects each residents’ unique needs – so they stay in control of their own unique journey.
And with 76 villages across Australia, 17,000+ residents and 800+ passionate staff, we’re leading the way with heart, for a new age of wellbeing, connection, and choice for all independent seniors. For more information, please visit: https://keyton.com.au/